Ask the Experts – Contributions to State Candidates - State and Federal Communications

October 4, 2012  •  

Ask the Experts – Contributions to State Candidates

Steve QuinnQ. I am interested in making contributions to state candidates in the upcoming elections. Does the fact that I’m a registered lobbyist affect my ability to contribute?

A. In certain states, being a registered lobbyist does impact your ability to give to a political candidate, ranging from a total ban on political activity, to simply having to report the contributions on your periodic reports.

In Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, lobbyists may not make contributions to lawmakers while the state legislature is in session. Fortunately, in the context of the upcoming elections, most states have adjourned sine die. In California, a lobbyist may not make a contribution to a candidate for any office for which the person is registered to lobby. Because most lobbyists are registered to communicate with the legislature, this ends up being nearly a total ban on contributions to legislators. Similarly, in Kentucky, a lobbyist registered with the legislative branch may not make a contribution to a lawmaker. In Alaska, a lobbyist is only allowed to contribute to candidates for office within his or her voting district.

There are several states in which lobbyists are allowed to make contributions, but must disclose the donations on their lobbyist reports. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Washington are examples.

Some states have unique provisions for politically-active lobbyists. In Pennsylvania, for instance, a lobbyist who makes political contributions must register and report in the same manner as PACs. Minnesota lobbyists must include their registration numbers in the memo section of campaign contribution checks.

If you or a member of your team would like to make a campaign contribution in a state in which you are registered, please contact a member of the State and Federal Communications Compliance Department for fact-specific guidance.

(We are always available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or e-mail us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies to your questions are not legal advice. Instead, these replies represent our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

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